“[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…. And…the God of all grace…will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” –1 Peter 5: 8, 9, 10
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Looking back on my pilgrimage, particularly the parts colored with fear, depression, and doubt—or sensual enslavements—I have, in every instance, listened to lies. No, more than that: I have believed lies, which is the same as to say, I have “trusted in deception.” The results, as we noted in Théoden’s case, are inevitable and universal: believing constitutes agreement, agreement is obedience, and obedience yields servitude—either good or bad.
Théoden wasn’t ensnared by one missive from Grima, but the process began precisely there. I wasn’t mired in debilitating depression (or paralyzing fear or captivating lust) by one satanic dart. But in each case a whisper—anchored to a vulnerable outcropping in my soul—became the first strand of silken bondage to loop around me. Imperceptible at first, another followed, and then another, as unresisted thought begat unrebuked thought begat unyielding thought.
Without alertness and immediate resistance (i.e., escape!), a large, lumbering beetle can and will be ever-so-incrementally enslaved by a tiny spider’s studied and patient entrapment in wispy web-strands. There is nothing more potentially powerful than thoughts, which, seemingly inconsequential—like a spider’s web—become powerful through unrestrained proliferation. By lack of alert responsiveness, the beetle is, literally, devoured— God’s caveat from creation.
The simplistic answer to this threat is “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10: 5). Every thought captive. To a bent man like myself, that one statement alone is enough to cast me into an abyss of hopelessness. And perhaps that is God’s intent. Oswald Chambers says, “…if all Jesus Christ can do is to tell me I must be holy, His teaching plants despair… Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the hereditary disposition that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives are based on that disposition: His teaching is for the life He puts in.”
My own life is testimony that knowledge of these principles alone cannot bring victory. “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). The victory, then, must be established by Jesus Christ in me; His Holy Spirit is resident potential victory available to me at all times. It’s like a vast underground reservoir of oil that needs to be brought to the surface, so that it’s potential energy can be utilized. Most of us find the process takes longer that we’d imagined it would; “connecting the dots” between head knowledge and heart application is agonizingly slow at times. This is why we are issued continuous exhortations to endure, to persevere, to abide, to never give up!
Peter tells us that our part is to resist with trust in the empowering knowledge that “…the God of all grace…will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” The critical bridge which will unlock a restful consistency in this process is developing our relationship with Him. Not so that we can be victorious—that is an effect—but so that we can know, recognize, and hear Him and be confident in His presence and His care.
Dearest Abba, I thank you for your steadfast love, that I am not a project that you get bored with and throw aside when I don’t “shape up.” Thank you for saying to my soul: “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners…” (Isaiah 57:18). >MOW ©2010